Film review: PARIS-MANHATTAN, from Built For Speed

The offbeat French rom-com Paris Manhattan is the debut feature for writer/director Sophie Lellouche.  Despite its soufflé-light story the film manages to eschew much of the cheesiness normally associated with rom coms particularly those from Hollywood.

The film stars Alice Taglioni as a pharmacist also named Alice who, despite being in her 30’s and looking only a few airbrushes away from a supermodel, is unattached to any man.  Her single status is mostly due to her obsession with Woody Allen.  Since seeing Hannah and her Sisters as a 15 year old (a character Taglioni rather unusually plays in an early scene) she has regarded Woody as her spiritual and emotional guide and she even imagines him counselling her on important life decisions. Consequently, her parents are desperate to set her up with a responsible, non Woody-obsessed guy.  The man they try to foist on her, the slightly annoying burglar alarm technician Victor (veteran French actor and pop singer Patrick Bruel), looks at first like he’s far from a perfect match.

This is a charming, breezy film that’s occasionally amusing rather than gut-bustingly funny.  The light flourishes of comedy derive from Alice’s quirky view of the world and her strategies for dealing with life’s problems which include dispensing Woody Allen movies rather than medication to her pharmacy customers’ as a cure for their ills.

While Alice is an appealing character she’s interestingly atypical of the sort of woman we normally see in this type of scenario.  Despite her obsession with the Woodster she isn’t in any way dysfunctional like for example the Abba-obsessed Muriel in Muriel’s Wedding.  Alice is a successful pharmacist and a practical, intelligent and assertive woman.

The Woody obsession is of course instantly identifiable and appealing to film reviewers although Alice thinks of him more as a confidante than a filmmaker and doesn’t discuss in great detail the themes he explores or cinematic style of his movies.  Paris Manhattan touches on some of Woody’s existential obsession such as the inevitability of death but doesn’t dwell on these or investigate them in a particularly profound way.

Also, unlike Woody’s films, Paris-Manhattan doesn’t explore the visual and architectural wonders of the city in which it’s set; it’s largely confined to cluttered interiors.

This is a likeable film with an amusing premise at its core but not quite in the league of the man who inspired it.


Nick’s rating: Three stars.

Classification: PG

Director(s): Sophie Lellouche

Release date: 13th Nov 2012

Running time: 77 mins.

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